On August 9, 1975, I stood on the platform of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and waited for my bride-to-be to walk down the aisle. Always such a talented person, Susie took that walk in a wedding dress that she had made herself. She was then, as she is now, the most beautiful and wonderful lady I have ever known. We were both nineteen years old, and though that seems incredibly young to me now, we embarked on an adventure together that has been a story of God’s marvelous grace.
It has been said that “marriage is man’s last best opportunity to grow up,” and I have to admit that I had my share of growing up to do. I have learned many lessons in the last thirty-five years that I would like to pass on to others here.
1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Most marriages break apart over an accumulation of little things that are not really important in the long run. In my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, there is a bridge that spans the Savannah River and links the state of Georgia with South Carolina. I stood on top of the bridge before it was opened to traffic and immediately felt a slight movement as the coastal winds pressed upon it. The D.O.T. worker informed me that if the bridge were rigid it would collapse under the pressure of strong winds. A marriage that is not flexible will never hold up under the adverse conditions it must face.
2. End Each Day With a Clean Slate
In Ephesians 4:26 we are commanded not to let the sun go down upon our wrath. Don’t end the day with unresolved differences in your heart. Never keep a mental file of times that your spouse has disappointed you—shred it and never use it as ammo in the next disagreement. People who live in the pains of the past have no real present and no hope of a happy future. They are imprisoned by their lack of forgiveness.
We who are saved were drawn to Christ by His Word, and our marriages are to mirror the relationship that Christ has with His church. It is through our communication as husband and wife that we are drawn to each other in fellowship. Couples who do not communicate learn to live in survival mode—just getting by, yet never knowing what a spiritual marriage can be. When a person pouts and exiles his mate to solitary confinement, he reveals that he never truly grew up.
4. Express Your Love
I love you are three of the most powerful words in the English language. Say them daily, and evidence it often. Love is not a passive emotion that lies dormant somewhere within us; it must always be active in order to remain healthy.
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Song of Solomon 8:7a